Great Ideals Know No Nationality

Marcus Garvey said: “All intelligent people know that one’s nationality has nothing to do with great ideals and principles. If because I am a Jamaican the negro should not accept the principle of race rights and liberty or the ideal of a free and independent race; then you may as well say that because Jesus was a Nazarene the outside world should not accept His Doctrine of Christianity, because he was an ‘alien.’ … Again, I say, great principles, great ideals know no nationality.”

Today, let’s be motivated to accepting the good in everyone, despite their nationality. A little motivation is all we need.

There’s Hope: the Digna Wheatley Impact

There’s hope.

Tired of their needs being ignored, in 1988 the students at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School (IEKHS) led a march to Government House and the VI Legislature demanding better conditions at the school. The students were fed up with one particular condition– there was no gymnasium. Back then students ate meals and took physical education classes in the same room. This one large room functioned as a cafeteria, gymnasium and auditorium – the cafegymtorium as it was called. Seventeen-year-old Digna Wheatley, the newly elected Student Council president, was approached by two students asking the council to organize a student protest. “Ms. Digna Wheatley saw we had a problem and did something about it,” said former IEKHS faculty member Dagmar Greenaway. Digna lead the student body in what was called “the most well-organized and respectful marches for educational equality” in the Virgin Islands. Less than a year later $600,000 was appropriated to build the schools’ first gymnasium. On Feb. 18, 2012, in an emotional and motivational ceremony, the gymnasium at the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School (IEKHS) was named in honor of Digna Marie Wheatley.

“I can still see her standing up in front of us with her feet planted firmly in the ground and her hand in the air saying ‘we are going to march,’” recalled her classmate Lisa Williams. “She declared we were going to march. The response she always got was ‘yes,’” Lisa said. “We always wanted to join her. It was necessary. We felt like we were being ignored by the leadership of this community.”

There’s hope.

When Digna was approached by the two students to lead a march Digna thought, “why me, why now,” she said.  Digna had decided to run for Student Council president just two days before the election, at the urging of a teacher. Now she was being asked to do something that had not been done before. Before agreeing to that significant request, Digna prayed and God responded with a ‘yes.’ Digna made it clear to the students that they had to represent the school and themselves with the utmost dignity. In the following weeks Digna organized the march, secured the necessary permits and rallied the student body, all unbeknown to the school’s administration and faculty. When the leaders at the school found out, they decided to join the effort. “She had not only the vision to see what needed to be done,” said former Kean High faculty member James Kerr, “but to motivate others to do the same.” He noted how ironic it is that elected officials say that they work in the interest of the children, but it this case it was a child who had to take lead to advocate for a gymnasium for her schoolmates and other students to come. “It’s ironic. It’s amazing. It’s wonderful,” Kerr said.

There’s hope.

Digna led more than 1,200 IEKHS students to the Legislature and Government House in a march that has been sealed in Virgin Islands history. They were joined by IEKHS administration and faculty, and members of the community. While elected officials tried to placate the teenager, she held fast to her goal. Passionately and respectfully Digna told the Virgin Islands of the conditions at Kean High and demanded better. And for the first time they listened. “We demanded respect as students from an educational system that was unjust,” Digna said. “It was that vision that burned in us, a fire that couldn’t be extinguished,” she said. “I’m very grateful that God decided to use me many years ago.”

There’s hope.

The IEKHS’ gymnasium was built in the early 1990s. In 2004 the VI Legislature passed a bill to name the gym in Digna’s honor. As a Virgin Islander I am so proud of what Digna Wheatley represents for all of us. As an alumna of Kean High I am even more proud.

“It is so fitting that we are doing this in the morning,” IEKHS principal Dr. Sharon McCollum said at the renaming ceremony. “Morning signals a new beginning. Digna represented a new beginning. Today we celebrate you and how far we have come,” she said. “Digna you have been a blessing to Ivanna Eudora Kean High School. It is with a great sense of pride and honor that we will name this building after you.”

 There is hope.

Today Digna, a nurse and public health administrator, works at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The students at IEKHS have a gym.  After many years of requests, construction of the school’s first track has begun. “Everything we’ve ever wanted, every accomplishment we’ve ever made, we’ve had to fight for,” said Tulip Fleming, former IEKHS faculty member and one of Digna’s teachers.

As long as there are other Digna Wheatleys in community who have the courage and vision to organize, strategize and lead – there’s hope!

Everyone Can Serve

The great Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Today let’s be motivated to becoming great by serving others, serving our community and serving our world. A little motivation is all we need.


Agitate for Progress

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglas said, “People who advocate freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are people who want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without the awful roar of the thunder and lightning. Without struggle, there is no progress. This struggle might be a moral one. It might be a physical one. It might be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Today let’s be motivated to agitating for what we need. A little motivation is all we need!

Cooperation… Let’s Do It

Marcus Garvey said: “It is so hard, so difficult to find men who will stick to a purpose … and if there is a race that needs such men in the world today, God Almighty knows it is the race for which I am a member… so long as I am in the race and since I have the sense and judgment enough to know what affects the race affects me, it is my duty to help the race clear itself of those things that affect us in common.”

Today let’s be motivated to cooperating as a race and a people. A little motivation is all we need.


Let Food Be Your Medicine

Recent scientific studies have shown that taking vitamin pills brings little health benefits. What doctors are recommending this that we get the majority of or vitamins from the food that we eat, not pills that we take. That means eating lots of fruits and vegetables, eating fresh foods over highly processed foods, and reducing our intake of salt and other preservatives. This idea is hardly new. Greek physician Hippocrates said it best, “let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.”

Today let’s be motivated to eating the right foods; our health depends on it. A little motivation is all we need.

Love is…

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Now abideth faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians, ch 13, Holy Bible

Today let’s be motivated to living in love and doing everything with love. A little motivation is all we need!

Sticks and Stones

Words are powerful. We have the power to speak life, hope, prosperity, forgiveness, expectations, love and so many other things into our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Each time we speak, we have the opportunity to bless ourselves or someone else with our words. Think of the times when your spirits have been lifted by someone’s kind words; when you felt so much better about yourself because of affirming words. Sticks and stones can break our bones, and words can also hurt us.

Today let’s be motivated to choosing our words wisely because they are so powerful. Sometimes a little motivation is all we need!


Do Everything unto the Lord

Colossians Chapter 3, vs 23 says “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Who do you work for? No matter our respective jobs or roles, we must recognize how our day-to-day tasks fit into our purpose in life. With that realization we should always give our best. How we do the work that we do is a reflection of ourselves and the higher purpose that we hope to achieve.  

Today let’s be motivated to doing everything as unto our Higher Power.  A little motivation is all we need!

Doing a Little Can Mean So Much

Times are hard. Many of us barely have enough money to get by. Many of us don’t have enough time to do all that we need to do. Sometimes we think we can’t make a difference because we have so little to give. We must realize that every little bit counts. $5 a week to our favorite charity, or our children’s college fund will make a difference. Volunteering for one hour, whenever we can, will make a difference. Listening to someone who is in need, will make a difference.

Today, let’s be motivated to doing whatever little that we can. A little motivation is all we need!